Contingency Planning: How Spas Are Pivoting During the COVID-19 Crisis

Contingency Planning: How Spas Are Pivoting During the COVID-19 Crisis

client retention covid-19 leadership Mar 24, 2020

Let’s level with each other, spa owners: there is no playbook for how to handle the current COVID-19 crisis as a spa business owner, and spas have inarguably been experiencing immediate impacts to their business. 

In fact, I have already done two trainings on spa business continuity throughout the novel coronavirus crisis: “COVID-19: Pivot, but Don’t Stop Your Marketing” and “COVID-19: How to Manage Your Spa Business Continuity in an Uncontrollable Situation.” Why? On top of guiding spa owners through this stressful time, to remind spa owners that now is the time to push aside their fears and shift into the mindset of mitigating the long-term impacts on their business.

The takeaway? That there is opportunity hidden away in this conflict-- you just need to be looking for it.

Similar to a “fight-or-flight” response, spa owners face a slightly different instinctual dilemma: to shut down or think creatively. You know which one I’m rooting for you to do.

Today, I talk about the creative solutions you can start implementing today to cushion your spa business throughout COVID-19… because even though we aren’t certain how long the COVID-19 preventative measures are going to be in place or what the economic implications are, what we can do is manage the experience for our businesses.

COVID-19: What’s Happening As We Speak

At the time of publication, the majority of spas here in British Columbia and around the world are closing for a preliminary two weeks in order to “flatten the curve” and prevent our health care from becoming overcrowded with COVID-19 cases. The benefits? Closing down “non-essential” services will certainly expediate the world’s recovery from this epidemic. The downside? Spa owners don’t have an answer on how long these measures will be in place.

So what can you as a spa owner do in the meantime for your clients?

  • Communicate with clients via personal calls and emails for both general notices about your spa and personal check-ins

  • Consistent social media updates to keep your clientele in-the-know

“But Kirsten,” you may be asking, “what I’m most worried about right now is finances! How should I be handling that right now?” Excellent question. My top recommended priorities are ironing out:

  • What your spa business’s current cash flow is and how long it will last

  • Which variable expenses you can cut. Your payroll is likely your biggest variable expense, as closure regulations in your area will dictate that-- if you have a team behind you and are stressed at the prospect of laying your employees off, remember to keep a close eye on your area’s COVID-19 EI updates and how your team may be able to apply

  • If you can negotiate a lower or deferred rate on fixed expenses such as rent and equipment 


What Else Do Spa Owners Have Their Hands Full With Right Now?

In short? A lot.

The full answer? Organizing staff to collect unemployment; shifting to phone orders or e-commerce; mapping out shipping and contactless delivery; preparing your spa for short-term closure; and, for all the fellow mothers out there, taking care of children’s schooling and child care needs.

Likely, it will be difficult to get your spa business’s closure and online sales organized-- spas that are already set up with e-commerce and virtual consultations have had their hineys saved this week, that’s for sure! However, if your spa business does not have pre-existing e-commerce or virtual appointments enabled then reach out today to either get private coaching on your specific situation or outsource to me and my team to get those revenue opportunities set up for you in a timely and effective manner-- or keep reading to see if you have the time and capacity to set them up yourself!

Not looking for hands-on help, or are just looking for a safe space to talk about your COVID-19 grievances with fellow spa owners who will understand? Then join my free spa owners-only Facebook group, Spa Business Mastery.

What’s Next for Spa Revenue During COVID-19?

Before I answer, I cannot stress the importance of micro productivity enough: the approach of breaking down a big project into smaller, more doable steps. Because our brains are limited and, as such, become quickly overwhelmed when we have a mountain of tasks in front of us, breaking your tasks up into bite-sized pieces will be what gets you over this next hump while organizing how you are going to mitigate COVID-19’s impact on your spa business.

For revenue:

  • Establish new revenue streams by setting up e-commerce and virtual appointments

  • For virtual appointments, my favourite beginner-friendly video conferencing tools include FaceTime, Skype, and Zoom. While Zoom is considered “mid-tech” by some, it is hands-down my favourite-- and the one I personally use with clients-- due to its reliable audio and visual quality. But if you’re just getting started, go with FaceTime or Skype to keep your new service simple.

  • Now for the next portion: online forms. The most common options are Google Forms, which, while easy to use, are unfortunately not HIPAA compliant; Formstack; and Jotform, which is what I use with clients because of its easy customization. 

For tech:

  • Your first step is to create a virtual appointment service in your booking system along with systematized invoicing

  • My recommendations for invoicing tools if your spa software is unable? Square and PayPal due to their easy integration

For connection:

  • Creating a private clients-only Facebook group similar to my spa owners-only group. Some of my favourite daily conversation starters include group facials, coffee chats, and educational videos. Never filmed yourself before? Not a problem! I have Live training on that

  • For a long-term growth strategy, creating a course is a fantastic method; this can be done through either a Facebook group or a platform such as Kajabi. While this method does take longer to develop due to the technology aspect, you can use your spa’s temporary closure as an opportunity to flesh out a course that will establish you as an expert in your niche

On to One of the Biggest Questions: “Should I Be Marketing Right Now?”

Yes. Yes, yes, yes. However, your spa’s marketing needs to change in order to include content marketing that is relevant and stimulates engagement.

What does this look like? Providing free, valuable information without being sales-y or pushing for a sale right away. For example, if you are selling online then restrict promotional content to 20% of your overall email or social media marketing.

“Kirsten, I don’t have any ideas for non-promotional content right now!” If that’s the case, then feel free to take inspiration from my go-tos below:

  • Virtual facials with your followers. A great example of this is a solo spa that I know is selling facial kits and hosting live Facebook at-home facials to build a sense of community

  • Sharing how you have spent your time while practicing social distancing. Allowing your clientele to peek into your personal lives builds a sense of trust and empathy, especially if their private lives are similar to yours

  • A live virtual product sale or demo

  • A series of tutorials on topics within your niche, whether that be massage therapy, acne, lash care, or anything else under the sun

  • Asking for book, music, or activity recommendations while in isolation

Be sure to remind your followers that you’ll be doing regular Facebook or Instagram Lives to coach them into tuning in-- or include your broadcasting schedule in your newsletters to invite them to join you at the specified time!

When the Dust Settles, It’s Time to Dig Into Business Analysis and Contingency Planning

If your spa business is on pause right now, take this as an opportunity to review what’s working and what isn’t working-- whether that be people, sales, marketing, inventory, and/or management. 

Remember to take time to decompress, lean on your mentors or leaders for support if things feel too heavy, and take advantage of the many free or low-cost business training available right now. My favourite? Tara Zirker, who places her Facebook ads coaching focus on alignment within your business. I know for me, personally, this crisis has solidified my purpose as someone who lives to see other spa owners thrive, especially when times get hard. Tara’s musings emphasized this for me.

Because this situation is rapidly changing, it is our responsibility as business owners to remember to stay nimble with our decisions and actions; we don’t know how long the COVID-19 measures will stay in place or what the final economic outcomes will be, but this slow down will also prompt us to create better structures, systems, and habits both personally and professionally. 

Stay brave, innovative, and passionate, and be sure to reach out if you need a guiding hand through this situation. 

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